Cubs

Mixed results in Rose's return

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Mixed results in Rose's return

NEW YORKJudging from his point total in Sunday afternoons loss to the Knicks, Derrick Rose was not only back in the Bulls lineup, but back to his old ways.

However, the box score, which reflected his struggles shooting and handling the ball told a different story.

Now, Rose clearly got more comfortable as the game went on, but while there were flashes of his explosiveness, he didnt display his trademark burst on a regular basis and his turnover issues showed a lack of timing. More significantly, his problems late in the game at the free-throw line which famously plagued him in a late-January loss at Miami, not to mention in the NCAA national-championship game as a freshman in college reared its ugly head.

Free throws, turnovers. Thats the reason why we lost this game. I had a lot of turnovers, just getting back into rhythm. Its just one of those games at the end, missed those free throws. Hopefully next time, if I get the opportunity, Im going to knock them down, a dejected Rose said afterwards. I told them if I was out there and we needed to win the game, I wanted to be in the game and he put me in. I missed those damn free throws and next time, I know Ill for sure hit one of them.

Both Rose and All-Star teammate Luol Deng came up short at the charity stripe with the Bulls needing just one foul shot to make it a two-possession game, resulting in Knicks star Carmelo Anthony hitting a game-tying three-pointer to send the contest into overtime, following Rose missing a game-winning shot attempt at the buzzer. In the extra session, Rose came up short on another opportunity to win the game at the buzzer.

Step-back. Shot a little bit too hard. I think it was on target, but it just went over the rim a little bit too hard and I can live with that. My teammates gave me the ball, they have confidence in me to take those type of shots and this time, I just missed it, he recounted. They swarmed me and I just got the shot off, but it didnt go in.

I just fell into him. I was trying to come off, he was playing me hard, he tripped and I tripped over him. I looked up, the ball was in, just ran to the ball, he continued, when asked about the games final play, on which he initially stumbled when tangled up with a Knicks defender. Oh, its tough. Its definitely tough. When you lose a game, especially for us, its tough. Its going to hurt us, no matter who we lose to. But their team played great, man. Knocking down shots, didnt give up when we went up, had a big lead.

On the bright side, Rose said that he didnt feel any negative aftereffects following the game and understands where he can improve.

I was trying to do too much. Try to let the game come to me. My teammates did a great job of getting us back into the game and second half, I was trying to play a little bit more aggressive, he explained. Trying to take off too fast, ball behind me or trying to be aggressive going to the hole and not cuffing the ball like I normally do, but that comes with time and hopefully next time we play them, turnovers will be down.

Just the tempo of the game. I didnt really get to the lane. When I did get to the lane, missing floaters, missing layups. Shots that I normally hit. I just wasnt hitting them today. I know that will come with time, too, the All-Star point guard continued. I feel good. When I was out there, getting my groove back, my wind was OK. Just playing. It just felt good to be out there.

When asked about the strained right groin that kept him out of action since the last Bulls-Knicks matchup in March, Rose said it wasn't on his mind.

I didnt think of it," he said. "Im not worried about that. My thing is, just try to get better. Defensively, we just werent there today and hopefully next time we play them, well come out with a sense of urgency.

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, while displeased with his teams mistakes in general, wasnt overly critical of Roses performance in his first game after missing 12 straight.

About what we expected. Some good, some bad. Handling the ball was a problem, but our whole team, we didnt take care of the ball, he said. Overall, I thought he played very well. Down the stretch, there were some bobbles and not clean, but thatll come quickly for him.

He said he was great. Talked to Fred Tedeschi, the teams trainer during the game. Said he was fine, so he was good, he continued. I talked about that playing Rose in the games stretch run with Fred. Because he was feeling fine, that was real good. We had an idea where we wanted the minutes to be.

Added Carlos Boozer: It was great to have him back. He looked great. He played great. He played a lot of minutes for his first game back and played very well, and it was great to see him back out there. Its just good to have No. 1 back in the lineup.

Chimed in Luol Deng: Ive played with Derrick for years now. Thats not really the problem.

Javier Báez joins Cubs All-Decade Team at second base, where El Mago was born

Javier Báez joins Cubs All-Decade Team at second base, where El Mago was born

With the 2010s coming to a close, NBC Sports Chicago is unveiling its Cubs All-Decade Team, highlighting the players who made the biggest impacts on the organization from 2010-19.

There may not be a player in baseball more exciting to watch than Javier Báez.

Whether at the plate, in the field or on the bases, Báez is a human highlight real. He’s one of the most powerful hitters in baseball; he has a cannon for an arm, exemplary defensive range and is a tagging maestro. He’s a dynamic baserunner who uses his elite baseball instincts to go station-to-station while magically avoiding tags along the way.

Yeah, there’s a reason Báez is known as “El Mago.” It’s not a matter of if he’ll make an incredible play each game, but a matter of when. Things come easy for the 27-year-old full of flair who makes the most difficult plays seem routine.

Báez is a career .270/.310/.484 hitter who’s hit 110 home runs in parts of six big-league seasons. One of those long balls came in his big-league debut (Aug. 5, 2014), a go-ahead blast against the Rockies in the 12th inning. The legend of El Mago was born.

Báez is the Cubs starting shortstop, though that hasn’t always been the case. Starlin Castro was the starter in 2014; Addison Russell claimed the title from Castro in the second half of 2015, holding it down until late in the 2018 season. Russell hit the injured list that August as the Cubs simultaneously acquired Daniel Murphy in an attempt to jump-start the offense.

By the time Russell returned, Báez was a clear-cut NL MVP candidate. The latter still bounced around the infield from time-to-time, but with Murphy entrenched at second, shortstop became Báez’s primary position. He’s been the starter ever since.

Báez has played 2,646 2/3 career innings at shortstop compared to 1,856 at second base (and 629 1/3 at third). He’s exclusively a shortstop these days, but the El Mago second base days aren’t forgotten.

Báez was the co-recipient of the 2016 NLCS MVP award (along with Jon Lester) and has started back-to-back All-Star Games (2018 at second, 2019 at shortstop). He was the runner-up for the 2018 NL MVP award, posting career highs across the board: .290/.326/.554, 34 homers, 111 RBIs, 129 OPS+.

And yet, it feels like Báez is only getting started. Nevertheless, his career to date has more than earned him a spot on our Cubs All-Decade Team at second base. With that, we'll leave you with this:

Adam Boqvist's entry-level contract with Blackhawks officially kicks in

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AP

Adam Boqvist's entry-level contract with Blackhawks officially kicks in

The youth movement is underway in Chicago and it's happening quicker than expected.

Adam Boqvist played in his 10th NHL game of the season on Sunday, officially triggering the first year of his entry-level contract. That means he will become a restricted free agent at end of the 2021-22 season. If he appeared in nine games or fewer, his contract wouldn't have kicked in until next season, which would've bought the Blackhawks an extra year of Boqvist playing at a cap hit of $894,167.

"Maybe that was a discussion very early on but as far as coach perspective, we like him," head coach Jeremy Colliton said on whether he and GM Stan Bowman had conversations about burning Boqvist's first year. "I think he's played well and it's an opportunity with some injuries to give him some ice time. He's handled it well so far."

Boqvist is the second rookie on the Blackhawks this season to burn their first year, joining No. 3 overall pick Kirby Dach. Whether the decisions were dictated by circumstances or not, the Blackhawks have seen enough of both of them to feel they can have an impact on the team in the short term without hindering their developments in the long term.

The number to watch now is 40. Like Dach, if Boqvist appears in 40 or more games this season, it will count as a full season and bring him one year closer to unrestricted free agency. Any player that's accrued seven full seasons or is at least 27 years old as of June 30 of that respective year can become an unrestricted free agent.

Boqvist appeared in six games for the Blackhawks during the month of November before getting reassigned to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League on Nov. 14 when Connor Murphy was ready to return from his groin injury.

But with Calvin de Haan (shoulder) expected to be out long term and Duncan Keith still out with a groin injury, the Blackhawks called up Boqvist for insurance and because they lacked defensemen with offensive upside. It appears he will remain with the big club for the time being and it serves as a chance for their No. 8 overall pick in 2018 to prove he can handle NHL minutes on a consistent basis during a desperate time for the Blackhawks.

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